Burgundy 2017: The Vivacity Vintage

2017 is a vintage of elegant, perfumed wines with fresh, vivacious, pretty fruit. This is a perfect vintage for new collectors and value-hunters (or what passes for value in Burgundy), with wines overperforming at village and lieu dit level. We’ll be adding 2017 to our collections for its quality and approachability whilst we wait for the blockbuster 2015 and 2016 vintages to evolve.

Go for: Perfume, fresh pretty fruit, concentration. High quality across reds and whites in all subregions.
Avoid: Growers who took advantage of the abundant crop to produce pasty, boring, dilute wines. (Don’t worry, all our recommendations have made the grade).
Six years of calamitous frosts, hail, mildew and insect infestations depleted cellars, leaving them with tiny quantities of excellent wine. The weather in 2017 left winemakers more relaxed, after a frost scare in late April, with good quantities of grapes and an easy harvest with rain a couple of weeks before picking commenced in early September. The harvest undoubtedly favoured winemakers with modern styles, restricting their use of new oak and long extractive maceration.
Producers such as Philippe Pacalet, practising whole bunch fermentation (rather than destemming the grapes), selected for optimum ripeness in the vineyard and used this to their advantage in developing opulent perfumed wines. At the opposite end of the spectrum, at Domaine Jean Tardy, the use of fully destemmed fruit led to clean and direct wines with great poise and balance.

Philippe Pacalet

Domaine Jean Tardy
The wines are tremendously food friendly, picking up good structure, opulence and soft, fine grained ripening tannins in the barrel. The nose of the reds reminded us so much of the floral, perfumed 2007 vintage, but with the supple tannins and concentration of 2010. Whereas the 2015s showed ever such ripe fruit, and the 2016s huge power, the wines of 2017 will give pleasure from the start, being ready to drink far sooner than their counterparts.
Terroir definition is to the fore in 2017, with textbook examples of every village and vineyard set in perfect relief against its neighbours. We tasted wonderful wines at regional, village and lieu dit levels which offered great value for money.
As for regional differences, every village produced lovely wines, so it’s sensible to select the best domaines. In style the reds from the Côte de Beaune offered the prettiest perfumes and fruit, those from the Côte de Nuits were more sinewy and of redder fruit character than the last two vintages. The whites were all excellent, singing with acidity, concentration, ageworthy and offering everything just short of the profundity of the great 2014 vintage.
In summary, it’s a great vintage for those new to collecting Burgundy (especially if you don’t remember how much less expensive it used to be). As long term collectors we’ll be adding 2017 to our collections for its quality and approachability whilst we wait for the blockbuster 2015 and 2016 vintages to evolve.